The Times West Virginian

In Today's TWV

October 4, 2006

Mannington observes its first International Walk to School month

FAIRMONT — Today at 8 a.m., Mannington Mayor Lenny Stafford will stand in the heart of Citizen Square and officially declare the month of October the first-ever International Walk to School Month within the town.

Joined by an audience of more than 400 middle school students, members of the Fairmont State football team and several state and local legislators, Stafford will read a proclamation outlining the details of the nationally celebrated event, and then the entire group will walk back to Mannington Middle School together to promote the act.

“It’ll be like a parade,” said Rana Taylor, Mannington Main Street coordinator. “As a group, the whole school will walk back along with the mayor and everyone else in attendance.”

A nationally celebrated event to promote physical exercise and a cleaner environment, the walk-to-schools campaign is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration Safe Routes to School federal-aided grant program. Within this program, a total of $612 million in federal funds are available across the country to promote safe walking practices, with each state receiving a portion based on how many school-aged children in grades K-eight reside in their boundaries.

In West Virginia, Taylor said a yearly potential of $75,000 is available for the next five years to be used to promote safe practices of walking and biking to school. These incentives include more bike racks at the school, repair work on the sidewalks and the rail trail along the route, the addition of safety signs, and the implementation of various informational assemblies and courses to teach kids the proper safety methods when walking or biking.

Presently, Taylor said there are many kids who live as close as a block from the middle school who opt to ride the bus instead of walking or biking, which is chiefly why this program would benefit the local area.

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